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Sport: Is hate speech ground for sanctions to sport clubs and applied/applicable in practice?

Key Area:
Public Life, Culture, Sport & Media
21/02/2012 - 19:33
Short Answer

Discriminatory incidents are sanctioned through law as well as through specific sport regulations, there are incidents which have been sanctioned in practice, yet no quantitative data is publicly available.

Qualitative Info

According to Law 4/2008 on the prevention and combating of violence on the occasion of competitions and sports games as amended through Law 10/2012:

- Art 10 (1) e) r) (2) b) 2^1 – the organizer of sports competitions or games has the obligations not to allow the use of public communications systems to incite spectators to violence, to destruction or to the denigration of the image of participants to sports competitions and games; to forbid the display within the sports arena of symbols, slogans or texts with an obscene content or which incites to the denigration of the country, to xenophobia national, racial, class or religious hatred, to discrimination of any kind and to violence regardless of the support on which they are displayed. Persons who have such materials on them should not be allowed access to the sports arena, these objects should be seized and the forces maintaining order should be called upon to take the necessary measures. Yet all the obligations under paragraphs 1 and 2 are not obligatory for the organizers of sports competitions with a low degree of risk.

- Art 36 – using racist, fascist or xenophobic symbols in the sports arena, spreading or owning in order to spread such symbols is considered a crime as well as promoting the cult of persons guilty of crimes against peace and humanity or of promoting a fascist, racist or xenophobic ideology through propaganda, done through any means, within the sports arena both punishable in accordance with Government Ordinance 31/2002 forbidding organizations and symbols with a fascist, racist or xenophobic character and the promotion of the cult of persons guilty of crimes against peace and humanity as amended (prison sentence from six months to five years and three months to three years respectively). Those perpetrating such acts are forbidden access to sports competitions or games for a period between one and three years.

Internal sports regulations also exist in Romania, the Romanian Football Federation having probably the most detailed ones. Chapter 54 of the 2011 Disciplinary Regulations is called Racism and reads as follows:

" 1. Anyone who publicly discriminates or denigrates someone else in a defamatory manner on account of race colour, language, religion, sex, ethnic origin or who commits another contemptuous deed of such character, will be suspended for 6 games at all levels, in the case of players and trainers and for four months in the case of officials. In addition, the club to whom the perpetrator belongs shall be sanctioned with having games organized without spectators from two to four seasons and a sports penalty from RON 45,000 to RON 60,000 (approx. EUR 10,225 to 13,636). If it is the case of an official, the penalty will be from RON 65,000 to RON 80,000 (approx. EUR 14,770 to 18,181). The same sanction is applicable in the case where a person has a xenophobic, offensive behaviour or who harasses another person on such grounds.

2. If the spectators display inscriptions containing racist slogans or are guilty of other racist or offensive behaviour in a game, the jurisdictional body will apply a sanction from RON 60,000 to RON 70,000 (EUR 13,636 to 15,900) to the club the respective spectators have supported, the club having to play the following official game without spectators. If the spectators cannot be identified as the supporters of one of the clubs, the host club will be sanctioned correspondingly.

3. Any spectator who is guilty of the deeds shown under paragraphs 1 and 2 above, will be sanctioned with forbidding the access to the stadium for at least two years.

4. According to the circumstances, the disciplinary body can apply also other sanctions to the responsible club, such as: forbidding the organization of games on its own stadium from two to ten games, loosing the game through forfeit, losing 2-6 points or the exclusion from the competitions.

5. Any type of propaganda of extremist ideologies is forbidden before, during and after the games, under sanctions foreseen under paragraphs 1 and 2 above.

6. The sanctions applied on the basis of this article can be reduced or even annulled if the respective player or club prove that there has been no guilt or a minimal guilt in the deed or if other serious reasons justify it, such as, in particular, the deeds which have been intentionally provoked in order to cause the sanctioning of the player or the club according to this article. The procedure of evaluating attenuating circumstances will be the one foreseen in these regulations. " [1]

It difficult to imagine what attenuating circumstances might justify the kind of behaviour sanctioned in this article. Paragraph 6 might actually open a way to impunity.

Cases registered and sanctions applied either by the Romanian Football Federation or the Romanian Equality Body (National Council for Combating Discrimination) have been recorded, yet, not up to date statistics are available. An EU Agency for Fundamental Rights reporting on data for Romania up to 2008 , stated that sanctions are not applied consistently and that maximum fines are not applied. [2]

No publicly available data could be identified with regards to the implementation of Law 4/2008.



1. Romanian Football Federation, Disciplinary Regulations 2011, available at: (21.02.2012)

2. European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Racism, ethnic discrimination and exclusion of migrants and minorities in sport: A comparative overview of the situation in the European Union, October 2010, p. 34 and p. 43, available at: (21.02.2012)

Groups affected/interested Migrants, Roma & Travelers, Ethnic minorities, Religious minorities, Linguistic minorities, Africans/black people, National minorities
Type (R/D) Extremism - organised Racist Violence, Anti-migrant/xenophobia, Anti-semitism, Islamophobia, Afrophobia, Arabophobia, Anti-roma/zinghanophobia, Religious intolerance, Inter-ethnic, Nationalism, On grounds of other belief, Anti-roma/ romaphobia, Xenophobia
Key socio-economic / Institutional Areas Policing - law enforcement, Sport, Anti-discrimination, Anti-racism
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